Sunday, August 18, 2013

Getting back to civility with Ambrose Bierce

Political Debate in this country has always been at the mud-slinging level, some would even say, the poo-flinging level. This is something I have definitely been guilty of. It's so tempting to refer to opponents as neanderthal, bat-shit crazy, insane douche bags, when they obviously deserve the monickers, and it's a cheap shot that gets a few chuckles from like-minded bystanders, and that really leads to instant gratification.

But my use of the term Douche Bag was called in to question recently, and after talking about it, I came to a revelation, and was forced to return to one of my favorite American writers, Ambrose Bierce, who I think that all Americans need to be more familiar with. I used to be a walking, talking Ambrose Bierce dictionary, but in recent years, let myself go, and well, politics have gotten so ugly lately, that it's easy to get lost. Hopefully, I've found my way.

So this revelation of mine went sort of like this:

In a recent discussion, I used the term "Conservative Douche Bag" to describe my thoughts about those God-fearing, conservative, Patriotic Americans who often demonize liberals, use racially divisive politics, and who frequently invoke religion and faith in defense of their views.

Then a participant suggested that by using the word "Douche bag", I was defaming actual Douche bags, which are actually a nice, handy and cleanliness-promoting product, and not at all what the people were like whom I was referring to.

I then had a revelation. Instead of using such disparaging terminology, and being perceived as name-calling bullies, we liberals should truly rise above the nonsense, and make it a point to refer to our adversaries only by the words they use to describe themselves to us and to each other.

Just use their own words, such as Conservatives, Godly, Faith, Moral, family-values, Patriotic, REAL-Americans.

We have our own understanding of these words, already. We already disparage terms like "Conservative". We need not explain it in different terms, because we understand it for what it is, and we don't like it. We also do not value family values, faith, and godliness in quite the same ways that conservatives do. We know this -- we have no need of using more colorful language, which our adversaries will perceive as mean-spirited bullying. In fact, it is an awesome thing indeed when you can disparage someone by calling them exactly what they refer to themselves as. Nobody can accuse you of being the bad guy!

If you have read Ambrose Bierce's book, The Devil's Dictionary", you will know exactly what I mean. Bierce's definitions of the above words hit the nail on the head, and are actually very powerful, even almost 180 years after he wrote them. You need not insult people with nasty words, and get them all angered and emotional, as long as you keep your own understanding of the words different from how they use them.

Here is another link to the Devil's Dictionary.

So to give you an idea of what I mean, here are a few of Bierce's definitions for the words that we should use when talking politics.

  • CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
  • CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
  • PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish read to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.
  • RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
  • FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel
  • FLAG, n. A colored rag borne above troops and hoisted on forts and ships. It appears to serve the same purpose as certain signs that one sees and vacant lots in London — "Rubbish may be shot here."
  • IMMORAL, adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard to the greater number of instances men find to be generally inexpedient comes to be considered wrong, wicked, immoral. If man's notions of right and wrong have any other basis than this of expediency; if they originated, or could have originated, in any other way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart from, and nowise dependent on, their consequences — then all philosophy is a lie and reason a disorder of the mind
  • MORAL, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.
  • FREEDOM, n. Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half dozen of restraint's infinite multitude of methods. A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a living specimen of either.
  • LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination's most precious possessions.
  • MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Racist, Right Wing Douche Bags Won't Quit

Where Alex Jones is the undisputed king of Paranoid, Right Wing, conspiracy-mongering, bat-shit crazy, Douche Bag politics, what disturbs me more is not what he has to say, but how many people can actually watch this man in action and take him seriously, as though he is a bonafide journalist or commentator. The man is obviously and demonstrably insane, and yet has a gigantic audience who thinks he's more than just a quack. Just watch him in action against respected journalist and TV presenter Piers Morgan, who only wants to ask some basic, simple questions about Jones' statements concerning President Obama and Gun Control. Jones answers nothing, and treats Morgan like a foreign spy trying find out our nation's secrets. Jones not only behaves like a complete douche bag, but he fails to comprehend any of what Piers Morgan is asking, or at least doesn't care. All Jones wants to do is promote Jones, and threaten Morgan. Several times, Jones' douche-bag behavior erupts into positively chemically-imbalanced incomprehensibility.

Even after all of the post-911 conspiracy theories and the conspiracy theories about Obama being a secret Muslim Kenyan Terrorist who wants to take your guns away and kill white people, have been thoroughly debunked a hundred times over, Jones and several other right-wing nut-jobs are going strong, with thousands of fans replicating their videos and blogs all over the internet. The above clip from CNN is one of the rare times that Jones ever appears outside of his own bunker-studio. Thank goodness not even Fox is dumb enough to take him seriously. I must even confess to relatives that take him seriously. One of my relatives watched the above video, and and thought Jones was victorious in giving Morgan "straight talk". Intelligent people, however, watching it will see a douche bag just basically insulting a man for no apparent reason.

Just when I thought all the Obama conspiracy theories were done and over with, along came the video below:

The Gun Nuts on Stan Solomon's Cable TV show ignore the facts, and simply make up their own mythology about Obama, based on nothing. They even admit that they have no actual evidence to show to back up these crackpot conspiracy theories, at least twice in this video. The fact that they have no evidence to show means there probably is no evidence at all.

These people, like most of the Right-Wing media-pundits (Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, et al) do what is known as "stream of consciousness" radio. This is similar to Howard Stern's style of program, where there is no script, where questions and answers simply spring from the minds of the participants, and there is no prep work at all. The show essentially is a dinner conversation between the host and guests, totally free-form, and off-the-cuff. These people are so used to just speaking their minds, that they never do any research for themselves. Their facts are nothing more than their opinions, and their evidence is the size of their audience multiplied by their shows' advertising revenues.

It's amazing to me that anyone can listen to these people make up all of this nonsense about Obama, even after nearly all of it was debunked before he even became president. Listening to them, it's clear that they either live in an alternate universe of their own, or they just shun new and information altogether, and listen only to their own fears and paranoias. It's hard to believe that not just their listeners, but they, do not consider themselves to be racists, in spite of promoting their "race war" theory, which is nothing more than the same exact race war theory that Nazis and Klansmen have been promoting for decades, just with the Nazi and KKK references removed.